Do Marathon Runners Have Bad Knees Later In Life?


One of the biggest concerns that runners, and non runners alike, have pertains to their knees. Knee problems can severely harm your life if they do not heal and running can certainly cause problems of its own. If you are a marathon runner, though, you should really have a greater understanding of what is at stake and what you should be concerned about, if anything.

The Risk

The risk that runners face that can affect them later in life is caused by the repetitive strain of your foot hitting the pavement, dirt, or gym floor. That repetitive movement places a lot of pressure on your joints and can, over time, cause damage on a long term basis, in some cases. This is for a variety of reasons, but if it becomes a problem, it can sometimes be irreversible.

Should You Be Worried?

The truth? No. If you know your body and run n a responsible way, you don’t have anything to worry about. In large part, the knee problems later on in life can be avoided with proper precautions. If you are responsible, no there is no reason for you to worry. If you are a person that tends to run too far and run until you are using poor form, yes, there is a major problem that can show its face and cause lifelong problems.

Can Running Actually Help Your Knees?

A recent article in Skeletal Radiology shunned the traditional thinking that running is terrible for your knees. A group took a look at runner’s knees ten years apart after running marathon after marathon. They found that these runners had no knee damage and had actually improved their joint tissue.

What this hinges on, however, is the fact that the runners use good technique and have years of practice behind them. Running with good form works to condition your cartilage and make sure that your knees are able to protect themselves from injury. In comparison, soccer players have been found to have an opposite result. This is important to the millions of middle aged runners that have been badgered with warnings of knee damage.

Staying Safe

The most important part of this issue is technique. If you make sure that you work up to longer distances during training, recover adequately, and use good technique you shouldn’t worry. The technique relies on using the natural form of running that your body is used to and is designed to do.

Barefoot or minimalist shoes are meant to replicate it and make this much easier, but things like POSE technique and Chi Running can help to further work on your technique and avoid the damaging impacts that running long distances over and over again can provide.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, whether or not you will have knee problems later in life depends on your own body, your technique, and your own lifestyle. It will vary from person to person and if you pay attention, you can easily avoid long term problems and actually improve your overall joint health. Never take a lazy view of your running and you won’t have a problem.

This article was written for by James S., a guest author

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